This week I want to highlight that every moment of your life is driven by emotions. Last week, I used the example of a sibling leaping out of a dark corner, dressed like Jason in the movie Halloween, and the reaction that might cause. I present this example to highlight that you can choose how to act, or react, based on the emotions your mind has contextualized. Once you recover from the shock, you can choose to laugh or be angry or exact your revenge. But the choice is yours.
None of us would choose to live with an emotion like hostility as our natural resting state if we thought we had control over it. We do have control! We have control over emotional states that have monopolized our personality. Worry, sadness, fear of failure, worthlessness, anger, guilt—we experience these emotions only because we have succumbed to our monkey mind.I wasn’t consciously aware of how certain emotions such as self-doubt had been driving my life early on. However, when I became clear of some of the unconscious drivers I started to train my reactions into more positive actions.
Many of us blame circumstance for setbacks because we’ve never analyzed our go- to emotions that comprise our personality and our natural emotional default state. I blamed going to a basic public school in a small town for feeling less intelligent than my peers. I marked it up doing poorly on a physics test for not understanding the concepts—and for getting a professor who didn’t give a crap about me. Most of the time we don’t realize we are sabotaging ourselves and not taking agency in the results of our actions.
I bet you’re now thinking of all the ways you’ve self-sabotaged in the past. Don’t waste your time. We all have done it. The point is that this is excellent news! The lightbulb just went on and you can change that story RIGHT NOW.
When I started at Colgate, I had a weak self-concept. When the harsh reality of this story became clear to me, I took measured steps to change my internal dialogue to I’m smart. I’m learning more every day. I’m going to succeed. Then, when I encountered the London study opportunity, instead of thinking: I’m only a B student, I overrode the negative self-talk with: This is part of my future. I’m the right person for this group. I got this. Getting accepted to the program further reinforced my newfound sense of the power of positive self-talk.
It took me several more years, however, to climb out from the negative deficit and rewrite the false story about my true potential. But, by the time I entered my MBA program at NYU’s Stern School of Business immediately upon graduating from Colgate, I was easily able to get straight A’s. Positive self-talk not only gave me courage but also upped my grade point average.
Most of us are on emotional autopilot, sabotaging ourselves but unaware that we have the power to take back the reins. We call ourselves stupid or stubborn or lazy or hotheads or victims of circumstance because we’ve never examined our body-mind connection. We accept these emotions as who we are because we didn’t know we had a choice. Now, you know. The choice is yours. I encourage you to start to notice the emotions that you are acting from. A great question to ask yourself before speaking this week is, am I saying or doing this out of love or fear (those are the base of almost every emotion), when you get that answer see what other emotion is layered on top. Hooyah!